A Democrat running for Congress in Florida's 10th district shared "something deeply personal" with his Facebook followers on Thursday.
"18 years ago, I was diagnosed with HIV," Bob Poe said in a video on his campaign's page on the platform.
In the video, Poe said that he is "perfectly healthy" because he was tested and treated early.
More than 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV, according to the CDC. Living a full and healthy life with HIV is possible with an early diagnosis and treatment. But some people with HIV are afraid to seek medical help because of the social stigma.
Poe said that he kept his medical condition a secret because of the stigma, but he felt compelled to publicly come forward after speaking to a woman who bravely shared her HIV-positive diagnosis with him.
"It's time to come out and share this with you publicly so that we can begin to have this discussion and remove the fear and the stigma and the shame," Poe said in the video. "It's those things that keep people from getting the diagnosis and the treatment they need to live perfectly healthy lives like I have."
If elected in November, he will become the first openly HIV-positive member of Congress.
"There hasn't been a real trailblazer in this area at a political level," Poe told Watermark Online. "I don't know why, in the scheme of things, that God decided I would be HIV-positive. But I can tell you that I feel a responsibility — an obligation now — to share my experience."